State: Migrants have enough time to prove right to stay

The state requests High Court reject petition by rights groups to extend deadline from 21 to 90 days for children and families living in Israel illegally to prove right to stay.

311_foreign workers' kids (photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
311_foreign workers' kids
(photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
The state called on the High Court of Justice on Monday to reject out of hand a request by five human rights groups to extend the deadline from 21 to 90 days for children and their families currently living in Israel illegally but who are eligible to remain here according to a cabinet decision on August 1.
The state’s representatives, Aner Hellman and Ro’i Shwika, also asked the court to reject the petitioners’ request to suspend the countdown toward the expulsion of all the children, whether eligible to remain in Israel or not, until the court ruled on the main request of the petitioners.
The court is due to hear the case for the first time on Tuesday.
The petition was filed on August 8 by Israeli Children, Hotline for Migrant Workers, The Association for Human Rights in Israel, The Israel Religious Action Center and Workers’ Hotline.
The petitioners charged that the government had not given the estimated 800 families eligible to remain in Israel enough time to collect all the documents they needed to prove their eligibility. The decision gave them 21 days to do so and authorized the Population, Immigration and Border Authority to grant applicants another 21 days if they had submitted most of the required documents by that time.
The documents required included the address, the original birth certificate or an authorized copy, the travel documents used when entering Israel, up-to-date travel documents, documents proving that the child was studying in a state school and registration documents, proof that Israel was the center of life (such as paid receipts, vaccination documents and so on) and proof that the applicants all lived together.
“The procedural conditions and rigid timetable for submitting all the documents supporting the application create bureaucratic obstacles which will leave many of the children, and perhaps most of them, who fulfill the substantive criteria of the government decision, without any possibility of exercising the rights granted them in the decision,” charged Hotline for Migrant Workers attorneys Yonatan Berman and Osnat Cohen-Lifshitz. While acknowledging that the government resolution recognized the principle of the well-being of children, they charged that “it did away with this principle at one and the same time.”
Hellman and Shwika argued that the original 21 days plus the additional 21 days for those who had already submitted most of the documents should be enough for most of the families to collect the documents they needed. Furthermore the state promised that in individual cases, if justified, it would grant more time.
“Should we find that there are individual problems in the specific case of one applicant or another, who appears to fulfill the substantive criteria established in the government decision, and conditional on the fact that the applicant fully cooperates with the Ministry of Interior and will act to obtain the missing document with all possible speed, the ministry will help solve these problems,” wrote the attorneys for the state.
A spokeswoman for Hotline for Migrant Workers said in response to the state’s brief, “We call on Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the Interior Ministry to stop their repeated proposals for the magical solution of a committee that will consider individual cases. This is cheap demagogy. A committee to consider exceptional cases cannot be a serious solution to the hundreds of families who stand to be hurt by the short deadline.”